Best Resources for a Trip Around the World
September 5, 2012 5:11 PM   Subscribe

What are the best resources, websites, and blogs for someone who is planning a trip around the world?

I've gone through and read many different threads about long-term travel, or trips around the world here on MeFi.

What are your best resources for someone planning a trip like this?

1. Lodging as you travel: There are often posts from people who've done this, and they'll mention that they found a little place for $3/night on a gorgeous sandy beach in Thailand. How do you find these places?
In 2004, I spent two months backpacking around western Europe. I used HostelWorld exclusively, and again when I booked a place in Argentina in 2010. Are there other sites that would be good for this?

2. Cheap Flights/Trains/Busses: There is a lot of conflicting information about the so-called "Round the World" airfare, and I seem to be coming to the point of prefering to book each flight individually, and as I go. Apart from the Expedias of the world, what are the best resources for finding cheap flights in Asia, Africa, and South America?
What about for planning travel by bus/train in the same continents? Are there any useful planning sites, apart from the regional carriers themselves? Are there reviews of said carriers?

3. Travel Guides: The last time I did something like this, ebooks weren't a thing. Are there really good travel books in eBook form? Is Lonely Planet still considered among the best for this sort of thing?

4. Travel with Laptop vs. iPad: I have an iPad, and a laptop. Would travelling with an iPad make me a huge target for thieves (I feel like it will)? Would taking a small laptop (making it look pretty beat up) be better?

5. Blogs: Who are the best bloggers to read who've done something like this? There seems to be a large number of blogs out there, and they range from awful, to glossy, to informative... I'm looking for informative, with tips/hints, what pitfalls can be avoided, where to go, that sort of thing.
posted by smitt to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
For trains, ask the man in seat 61.
posted by pompomtom at 5:30 PM on September 5, 2012

Watch A Map for Saturday. Not super informative, but he gets across a lot of the feelings you'll have while you're away.

I used hostel world a fair bit if things were busy tourist wise, but mostly I just winged it, and found places when I arrived (in Asia especially - New Zealand, for example, was very busy so I always booked ahead).

I used paper versions of lonely planet or whatever I could get my hands on, to figure out where to stay, but a lot can change from publication to when you show up. What was once a nice place is overrun due to great reviews, and cleanliness and other things falter. You'll meet lots of people - they'll tell you where to stay.

I really played it by ear. I had no specific places I needed to be at certain times, so I stayed in places till I was bored or felt it was time to move on. If there are certain festivals in cities (songkran in Chiang Mai for example), you can aim to be there at those times. Festivals mean it'll be busy, so you'll want to book ahead (although I managed without booking).

I like the CityMaps2Go app for travelling now. Not sure how the international maps are, but the North American ones are good.

Have fun.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:23 PM on September 5, 2012

I traveled Asia recently and used the following websites: - forums for southeast asia countries (thailand, vietnam, singapore, indonesia, etc) - features a ton of travel writing/articles for just about anywhere you'd want to go backpacking.

lonely planet has an awesome forum called Thorn Tree. I always would browse through it looking for travel partners, updated travel advice for specific countries, etc. I found it was the most current information and source to trust before my trip and also while traveling.

hostelworld is great for booking hostels ahead of time. you can also check out hostelbookers which takes a cheaper percent for booking. also you can always just look up hostels on those websites and then try to google the name of the hostel and get in touch with them directly. i was even successful in bargaining for their hostelworld price listed via the phone. i also used when i was in major cities.

i never booked an around the world ticket, but those who did booked through travel agents and said the prices were decent. you can always find budget airline carriers in each part of the world. a few examples i can think of for asia was airasia, ryanair for europe, etc. some countries even had their own budget airlines, like how india has spicejet.

i recommend going with the ipad. tons of other backpackers/travelers have ipads with them or small netbooks. just make sure to keep in on you or locked up. i traveled around with a macbook and while it made easy access to internet it also weighed me down. i made sure when i was walking around a city for the day to keep it in my backpack (if i couldn't lock it up). it got bulky. i wish i had the ipad or macbook air. i even had to hike with it for 2 days... kinda miserable imo.

once you get traveling you will start meeting other travelers and be able to exchange info/advice/tips. they are really your best source for information since most likely they've done it in the past few weeks or months.

enjoy! have fun!
posted by melizabeth at 8:21 PM on September 5, 2012

my apologies-- is a travel insurance website i used! anyways still helpful!! i used matador network for travel writing/article research. check it out, some interesting stuff on there!

also in terms in lonely planet-- it's a good rough guide, but as i said before other travelers are going to have the best knowledge on whats good and whats bad. chat people up before you head out to see the worlds largest buddha, because chances are it's not the biggest buddha and not worth $10 to get in!
posted by melizabeth at 8:24 PM on September 5, 2012

My inspiration was reading Edward Hasbrouck's Practical Nomad, and then attending a small lecture he gave at a travel bookstore.
posted by Rash at 8:25 AM on September 6, 2012


I can give you some tips based on my experience doing long term travel:

1. Lodging. These magical deals about nice cottages on the beach for $3 which even have wifi, they do exists, you mostly hear those from other travelers. One traveler told me about such a place on the island Pulau Weh in Indonesia. Haven't been there myself though, so I can't confirm. The person that told me seemed pretty happy about it! I always use as well. As you get to know some countries better, you'll discover other means of accommodation.

2. Cheap flights etc. I haven't looked into round the world tickets. I didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on a flight ticket up-front. Instead I prefer to buy tickets as I go along. It gives me more flexibility and freedom (not dependent on a certain airline or travel agency). I always book my flights directly on the airline website. It's cheaper and safer that way as the travel agency can make mistakes with your ticket or payment. I've worked at a travel agency and you'll be surprised at some things they do with your ticket that could get a world traveler in trouble. It goes alright most of the time though, but I feel better booking at the airline directly. I use for cheap deals (set the date range to search for to one month, or one year if you are really flexible). I usually spend on average around $100 - $150 on any one-way flight within Asia. Sometimes you're lucky and spend less than that. Europe has even cheaper flight tickets. I aim for $600 - $700 for one-way intercontinental flights, but that's not always possible depending on where you want to go and how flexible you are. For local transportation I usually consult www,

3. Travel guides. For some reason lonely planet is still the most praised book out there. I find it not so handy and often outdated, so I stopped reading it. I use and ask around local travelers and hostels. Sometimes I meet up with travel groups from online communities, that's the best guide you can wish for in my humble opinion! Some of these communities are and It pays off to study and plan your transportation from the airport to your accommodation up-front, as you usually make you fill in information about your accommodation on immigration forms. Failure to do so will result in being asked questions and/or inspection.

4. Laptop. It's a matter of personal preference. I take a small light-weight laptop with me which I can afford to get stolen so I don't stress out worrying about it :-)

5. Travel tips blogs. I don't follow these blogs, but sometimes I end up there when I google for "cheap flight tickets in Asia" or something similar. Sorry to say I can't remember any of the blogs I visited. There are many, a google search about the topic you are most interested in will take you there.

Good luck and have fun on your travels! :-)
posted by lifestyle-experiment at 12:47 AM on September 19, 2012

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